Dorset Work Matters

Dorset Work Matters is a joint project between Dorset Healthcare and the Dorset Mental Health Forum. It has obtained funding from NHS England to expand its Individual Placement and Support (IPS) employment service.

The funding will further support people who access mental health services across the county to regain employment. This can make a real difference for people on their journey to recovery.

As a result of the funding, our Trust has recruited a Project Lead - Nicola Oliver - who previously set up the IPS service in Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust. She will soon have Employment Specialists across Dorset to specifically support people in the following areas:

  • Early Intervention Services
  • Christchurch
  • Poole North & Bay2
  • Bournemouth North and West
  • Bournemouth East
  • Wimborne and Purbeck
  • Dorchester and Bridport
  • North Dorset
  • Weymouth & Portland.

What do we do?

We are commissioned to work with patients under a CMHT and to help with the employment part of their recovery.  We support those who want to find paid work by identifying their strengths and work preferences and use these to find and maintain appropriate jobs.  Being client-centred is central to our recovery-focused practice.

It is the patient's decision as to when they are ready to consider employment.  We help anyone who expresses a desire to work, regardless of job readiness factors, substance abuse, symptoms, history, cognitive impairment, treatment non-adherence and/or personal presentation.

Who are we?

We are a county-wide team of employment specialists with both an understanding of mental health issues and the necessary skills to enable people to find suitable employment.

We are embedded within the Community Mental Health teams and work closely with clinicians to support patients to attain their goals.  Best practice suggests that returning to work is a major life event and requires shared care and support to maximise the success.

What is IPS?

Dorset Work Matters uses the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) employment model, an evidence-based, NICE-endorsed intervention designed for supporting people with severe and enduring mental health conditions into paid work.

Randomised control trials reveal the model can help up to 60% of clients into long-term work.

Evidence highlights that clients view IPS service and employment as central to their recovery, and that more people using IPS remain in work in the long-term.

How do we deliver?

We carry a caseload of up to 20 individuals and work intensively with them for as long as they want our support.

Our aim is to help the client identify their strengths and aspirations as well as any relevant health considerations.  An action plan is developed, while benefits counselling, sharing personal information and return-to-work planning are all explored. 

The client will have a CV designed for the specific job roles they seek and ideally commence work with an individually tailored in-work support plan to maximise their safety and promote long-term employment.  We don't just submit CV's and application forms, we also engage directly with employers to help secure clients' preferred roles. 

Meetings with the client are usually located in the community (eg. a local library), somewhere they feel comfortable and where confidentiality is assured, (however due to Covid-19 most appointments are currently taking place electronically).

How to make a referral?

We accept any patient aged 18-plus, who is supported by CMHTs and who expresses an interest in looking for paid work.  If people are uncertain, then we can explore their options and help them increase their confidence to consider employment.

Our employment specialists can meet with their Care Co-ordinator to discuss and complete a joint referral, thereby ensuring the best possible sharing of relevant information, or referrals can be made via email, telephone call or a hand-delivered written referral.  We endeavour to make contact with the client referred to our service at the earliest opportunity to arrange an initial meeting to explore their employment preferences.

We also accept self-referrals and would, in this instance, liaise and work closely with the treating clinician (with patient consent), to build a safe return-to-work action plan.

Contact us

For further information email Dorset Work Matters here.  Alternatively you can make contact by calling 01202 584484.

Dorset HealthCare’s Work Services